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'Shopping cart abandonment' is a real thing

Posted at 7:18 AM, Aug 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-14 17:10:49-04

You click on a product, move it to your online shopping cart, but leave it there, maybe to search for a better deal. There's a name for this consumer behavior. It's called shopping cart abandonment.

"How often do you abandon your shopping cart?" TODAY'S TMJ4 asked one consumer.

"At least once a week probably," one woman said.

"I think it's probably because I never have enough money so it just sits in there," she continued.

"I put it in the cart, and then I kind of search around to find something better," said another woman.

A Business Insider report estimated in 2016, online retailers lost out on potential sales worth 4.6 trillion dollars globally.

"It's quite a widespread phenomenon," said Dr. Purush Papatla, Professor of Marketing and Co-Director of the Northwest Mutual Data Science Institute.

Papatla has studied consumer behavior for decades.

"Retailers are very interested in finding out what has been put into the shopping cart, most importantly what products are being abandoned," he said.

"What times are the abandonings occurring the most, what days of the week they are occurring the most, which areas are people coming from that are abandoning the most, all of this is information that retailers can use to correct the situation," he continued.

"Is there a violation of privacy do you think?" TODAY'S TMJ4.

"I don't think in terms of regulations there's a violation of privacy but retailers have to be careful in how much and how often they communicate with consumers," Papatla said.

Some merchants, Papatla said, will send an email reminder to the shopper to go back and buy, or offer a discount to the product sitting in their cart.

"So while on the one hand, you're giving up perhaps some of your privacy, on the other hand, you're probably getting a good deal," Papatla said.